ICRC urges combatants in Libya to let aid agencies in

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The international Red Cross on Thursday called for urgent access to civilians in Libya, saying that it is getting alarming accounts regarding the humanitarian situation in the country.

"It's unclear how civilians are faring in the areas affected by hostilities," said Simon Brooks, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross mission in Libya.

"And that's a source of great concern to us. We're getting alarming reports from cities like Ajdabiya and Misrata, where the conflict has been raging for weeks now," said Brooks.

On Thursday, forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi used tanks and snipers to target the rebel-held city of Misrata in clashes that killed at least two people, a rebel spokesman said.

Meanwhile, near Ajdabiya, rebels were within striking distance in their bid to retake the strategic eastern oil town from Kadhafi's forces.

While the ICRC is operating in the rebel stronghold Benghazi, it, like other relief agencies, has no access to many other parts of Libya.

The ICRC stressed that safe access was required for aid organisations to get to the wounded and others in need.

"Humanitarian organizations need safe access to war-affected areas and medical personnel and ambulances have to be allowed to reach the wounded," said Boris Michel, who heads the ICRC's operations in northern and western Africa.

© 2011 AFP

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